Another War of Jenkins' Ear

Resist The Pointless

Posts Tagged ‘realist

Of Fake Twitters and Real Ambassadors

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Charles Brown at Undiplomatic speculates that some recent (within the past day or so) rallies in Iran may be government traps, since Mousavi reportedly did not call for them and the government was ready.

Is this true? I have no idea. But it underscores the fluid situation in the country and the importance of caution in being an amplifier. That said, it’s also important for sources like Sullivan, Pitney, etc. to convey what is going on there.

That said, if these are traps, there’s not much that can be done. As much as we may identify with protestors in America, this is still the Iranians’ fight.

And it is a fight for them. It seems the action now is on crackdowns in the street, and any move the Assembly of Experts may take against Khamanei.

Meanwhile, in America, people are still talking about what Obama said yesterday at the presser. That does not matter much in Iran. It’s biggest impact will be in forming international coalitions around Iran. In that sense, it’s very noteworthy today that the US reinstated ambassadors to both Syria and Venezuela. Regarding Syria:

With little sign of talks with Iran or of progress on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, Syria offers Obama a chance of making some diplomatic progress in the region. In recent years Israel and Syria, who never signed a peace deal after the 1967 war, have been exploring a settlement.

The US would like to have Syria deny access across its borders to foreign fighters seeking entry into Iraq. Closer ties with the US might also counter Damascus’s relationship with Iran; the two have a mutual defence treaty.

“It’s a reflection of Syria being a pivotal country in terms of achieving a comprehensive peace in the region,” one senior official told the New York Times. “There is a lot of work to do in the region for which Syria can play a role. For that it helps to have a fully staffed embassy.”

It certainly seems that the result of the uprising in Iran is that negotiations with Iran will go nowhere – at least anytime soon.

Matt Yglesias explains:

The hope behind an engagement strategy was that the Supreme Leader might be inclined to side with the more pragmatic actors inside the system—guys like former president Rafsanjani and former prime minister Mousavi. With those people, and most of the Iranian elites of their ilk, now in open opposition to the regime, any crackdown would almost by definition entail the sidelining of the people who might be interested in a deal. Iran would essentially be in the hands of the most hardline figures, people who just don’t seem interested in improving relations with other countries. Under the circumstances, the whole subject of American engagement may well wind up being moot.

Reihan Salaam wants Obama to embrace his “inner Neocon”:

Obama, like Reagan, is a master at linking American interests to the greater international good. Whether he likes it or not, his engagement strategy with Iran has been revealed as a hollow hope, one that rested on an overoptimistic interpretation of Iranian intentions. As former Bush foreign policy adviser Peter Feaver has explained, Iran is far more likely to negotiate from a position of weakness than of strength. Rather than reassure the Iranians with a wink and a nod that we’re ready to do business, President Obama should be building an international coalition to isolate a recalcitrant Iran as thoroughly as the the West once isolated apartheid-era South Africa. Bush, to the chagrin of the neocons, could never pull this off. But Obama can.

If building a coalition against a state threatening to build a nuke that almost no one wants to have a nuke is being a Neocon, we’re all Neocons now. The push against Neocons was against the push for diplomacy of any kind and using tools of war quicker. For instance, Hans Blix and the inspectors in Iraq were from, technically, an international coalition – the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission. And that coalition was putting pressure on Iraq, but Bush, Cheney and others thought that only regime change would be sufficient for the ends they desired.

Diplomacy is not limited to direct negotiations, with everything else being acts of a Neocon. Regarding Iran: If direct negotiations won’t work, getting states like Venezuela and Syria into closer positions with America to put pressure on Iran is less of being a Neocon – and more of Nixon going to China to put pressure on the USSR. If Kissinger – the ultimate realist – is now a Neocon … we all are.

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Written by John Whitehouse

June 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm